MAC/20: Mines and Communities

TVI executive ask forgiveness for human rights violations committed by the company to the Subanon tr

Published by MAC on 2007-06-20

TVI executive ask forgiveness for human rights violations committed by the company to the Subanon tribe

By Ellen Red, First Posted on Inside Mindanao

20th June 2007

SIOCON, ZAMBOANGA DEL NORTE – The Vice President for Social Commitments of TVI Resource Development Philippines, Inc., Felice Yeban, has asked forgiveness from the Subanon tribe for the human rights violations committed by TVI.

TVI Resource Development Philippines, Inc., an affiliate of the Canadian mining company TVI Pacific, Inc., has a government permit to mine about 500 hectares in sitio Canatuan, barangay Tabayo, Siocon town, Zamboanga del Norte.

The Subanon tribe, on the other hand, was issued a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) covering about 8,000 hectares in Siocon. The CADT covers the entire mining area of TVI.

TVI has plans to expand its mining operations in Siocon. The company has applied for mining exploration in about 4,000 hectares in the mountains of Siocon.

During the community consultative assembly of the Subanon tribe held in sitio Paduan, barangay Candiz, Siocon town last June 17, Miss Yeban said, "Kung sakali man po na sa inyong palagay ay nag-violate ng human rights and kompanya, bagamat wala na po sa kompanya itong mga tao na nag-violate ng human rights; ipagpaumanhin po ninyo (If in your opinion, the company [TVI] has committed human rights violations, although those who had committed human rights violations are no longer connected with the company [TVI]; please forgive us)."

Miss Yeban added that they are not hiding the fact that TVI stands accused of various cases of human rights violations.

As a response to the call of forgiveness of Miss Yeban, Onsino Mato, one of the Subanon traditional leaders in Siocon, said, "Dili lang didto taman (It does not end there [asking for forgiveness])."

In 2001, Mr. Mato accused TVI of committing atrocities against the Subanon tribe before the 19th Session of the United Nations (UN) Working Group on Indigenous Populations in Switzerland. Among the issues raised before the UN by Mr. Mato are the following:

1. Militarization and acts of violence and intimidation;
2. Establishment of checkpoints and blockade on the entry of food and other basic necessities; and
3. Disrupting travel from farm to market road.

In 2002, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Region 9, through its director, Jose Manuel Mamauag, released an investigation report on the alleged development aggression of TVI.

CHR reported that TVI secured its mining area with security forces belonging to the Special Civilian Armed Auxiliary (SCAA).

The human rights commission added, "Basically SCAA members were trained, supplied with arms and with allowance from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). They were designed to assist the regular government forces in the maintenance of peace and order in their respective barangays. Surprisingly however, these SCAA under the TVI performed their duties in such a manner that as if the TVI is their employer when it should be the residents whom they should serve. These SCAA members even harassed the residents."

CHR then recommended that a "representation be made before the AFP-Southern Command for administrative action against the erring SCAA members."

Early this year, 29-year-old Vivian Balingit, a Siocon resident, reported to the UN Representative for Indigenous Peoples that while walking on the road in Canatuan with her three children and husband, she was blocked by four armed SCAA members.

Ms. Balingit, daughter of Subanon tribal leader Jose Anoy (who has consistently opposed the operation of TVI in Siocon), reported that one of the SCAA members pushed the tip of his rifle on her stomach, right shoulder, and right temple.

"They said the road is not ours but belongs to the TVI so we should pass through the forest," Ms. Balingit said.

Also, last June 16, a number; that is, 12 residents of Canatuan executed similar affidavits alleging TVI of development aggression. Specifically, in the affidavit executed by Mely Daguhoy, she alleged that her house was bulldozed and her crops uprooted by TVI with the
aid of SCAA.

Rather than going to government agencies or courts to seek justice, Ms. Balingit and the 12 residents of Canatuan, all alleged survivors of human rights violations committed by TVI, have manifested their will and desire to submit these conflicts to the Subanon traditional conflict resolution mechanism called Gukom Pito Ko Dulungan.

Likewise, Miss Yeban, the vice president for social commitments of TVI, told the participants of the community consultative assembly held in Paduan last June 17 that TVI had already expressed its desire to submit to the Gukom Pito Ko Dulungan for Miss Balingit's alleged human rights violation case.

However, this early, Miss Yeban has clarified that based on Philippine law, the SCAA is under the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and not under TVI.

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